I continued producing ACEOs (small playing card sized works of art) to sell on Ebay. I sold these via auction quite regularly for a while and it was a good experience as it helped me find a professional way of selling my art, something that took courage on my part, and also something that I should have attempted to do many years ago.
Earlier this year, I don't know why, but I dug out some lino cutting materials I bought about 3 years ago from a shop that isn't there anymore (where have all the art shops gone? To that shop heaven called 'on-line'). I made a linocut of artist Frida Kahlo and, taking courage from my the selling experience gained from selling my ACEOs and other small scale artworks, I posted it pretty much immediately on Ebay as an auction. It didn't sell, but I found that far from finding it a wrist breaking frustrating exercise of crumbling lino and sliced off fingers I actually enjoyed the process of cutting lino. It reminded me in many ways of making a pen and ink drawing, of chiselling out an imagined space in 2D. I quickly realised that after years of working pretty much exclusively in black and white in my dip pen and ink work, I now had a chance to expand graphically into using colour, something that I had not managed to do previously, despite various attempts at using other materials alongside India or acrylic ink applied with dip pen.
I very quickly began using colour in my linocuts, firstly simply printing the linocut plate in a single colour, then by applying a second colour to the single linocut plate and printing twice, using a registration device I made myself from corrugated cardboard (Youtube is a great resource for linocut advice). I made my first reduction linocut print of La Corbiere Lighthouse. I enjoyed the process, though it is quite tiring as I hand press my prints, as I don't own a press and have very limited space to work in. I have made several reduction linocut prints since then (March 2017) and am now embarking on my first imaginative linocut composition, which I am calling Meadowhead.
The plate I'm using is small 4 inches x 6 inches (the same size as my Corbiere print). I print small as I hand press using a dessert spoon and I'm not sure I have the energy to print much larger prints this way. Though no doubt I will try before long.
The inspiration for the Meadowhead composition comes partly from my heart, partly from the imaginative sparks that occur when I'm tired and drowsing in the sun (I saw the image of a coal miner emerging into a field of wildflowers in a half-waking moment) and partly it is the result of my reading recently, John Lewis-Stempels Meadowland and thinking about my family history, my great grandfather died in a mining accident in the Black Country at the beginning of the 20th century. We are what we do for a living, and sometimes what we do for a living does for us.
I sourced photographic images, some from the Internet, others are my own digital photographs of wildflowers taken recently.
I made sketches using the photographic material, then refined this using tracing paper. Though I really don't want to over plan as part of the joy of a linocut is treating the cutting as a drawing process, and the ink application as a painting process.
First application of colour after initial cutting, a pale yellow with green tinge to the top 'meadow' half of the linocut print.
Second application of colour of pale green.
Third application of yellow mixed with a little extender to increase transparency of the ink.